Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Brings Democratic Socialists of America Back to Mainstream U.S. Politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Twitter)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Twitter)

NEW YORK — The win by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic Party primary for New York’s 14th Congressional district serves as a milestone victory for the DSA, which long sought to infiltrate Democratic politics and push the party far leftwards.

In largely forgotten history, the DSA played a central role in helping found the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), which advanced radical DSA ideology within the Democratic party. The CPC was established in 1991 by six members of the House of Representatives, including Bernie Sanders, Ron Dellums and Maxine Waters.

With Ocasio-Cortez’s clinch of the nomination, the DSA now moves into the open within the mainstream of the Democratic party. She beat veteran Congressman Joe Crowley in an upset victory that sent shockwaves across the U.S. political landscape.

“Tonight’s victory shows that we are in the middle of a political revolution,” said Christian Bowe, a member of the DSA’s National Political Committee. “By running on an unabashedly Democratic Socialist platform focused on healthcare for all, housing as a human right, abolishing ICE, justice for Puerto Rico and a federal jobs guarantee, Ocasio-Cortez was able to defeat a powerful establishment Democrat who has been in Congress since 1999.”

The World Socialist Website outlined the role Ocasio-Cortez played in keeping the socialist revolution within the Democratic party:

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory reflects a significant leftward shift of workers and youth who are hostile to the Democratic party establishment and seeking a way to oppose inequality and the attack on immigrant workers by the Trump administration. Her own role, and that of the DSA, is to keep this opposition within the confines of the Democratic party and prevent it from taking an independent form.

The DSA was central in promoting her campaign, helping to canvass, organize phone banks and even reportedly producing one of her campaign videos.

As a member of the DSA, the platform for Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign reads like a socialist wish list:

  • Medicare For All
  • Housing As a Human Right
  • A Federal Jobs Guarantee
  • Gun Control / Assault Weapons Ban
  • Immigration Justice / Abolish ICE
  • Mobilizing Against Climate Change
  • Clean Campaign Finance
  • Curb Wall Street Gambling: Restore Glass Steagall
  • The expansion of Medicare into a universal healthcare system.
  • Infiltrating Congress

Infiltrating the Democratic party

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the U.S. and is known for its far-left ideology.

The anti-capitalist views of the organization are evident in its charter, which calls for wealth distribution:

We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.

We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane international social order based both on democratic planning and market mechanisms to achieve equitable distribution of resources, meaningful work, a healthy environment, sustainable growth, gender and racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.

The DSA originally emerged in 1982 out of two socialist-leaning groups: the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM).  The DSA traces its origins to the radical, anti-war Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), from which Bill Ayers’ Weather Underground domestic terrorist organization notoriously splintered. The DSA has its roots in the ideology of American democratic socialist activist and writer Michael Harrington.

In 1991, the DSA took more of a national role when it lobbied in a visible way for a universal health care system in the U.S. It was also around that time that the DSA helped to found the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Sanders and Waters.

Ocasio-Cortez served as an organizer for Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and she is listed as an endorsed candidate of the Brand New Congress political action committee, which was founded by former staff members from Sanders campaign. “True resistance means standing for the things you believe in,” reads the group’s website, which brandishes Ocasio-Cortez’s photo on its main page.

Ocasio-Cortez is also endorsed by Sanders’ Our Revolution group.

The DSA’s website documents some of its ties to the CPC. It states that the organization “turned much of its attention in the late 1990s to working closely with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and local global justice groups to oppose the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).”

While the DSA worked with the Caucus on the issue of opposing the draft agreement negotiated between members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the DSA’s ties to the Caucus run much deeper. In fact, the DSA played a leading role in founding the CPC.

The DSA’s role in openly helping to found the CPC has been documented but largely forgotten.

Chicago DSA’s New Ground publication identified the Progressive Caucus in Congress as a group which the DSA “helped to organize.”

The ties were so close that until November 2002 the CPC’s website was openly hosted by the DSA’s own website. However, after numerous news media outlets pointed to the connection, the online list of CPC members was relocated to Sanders’ own website before getting its own website.

The radicalism of the DSA’s website was openly brandished. In 1998, it featured “The Internationale,” the worldwide anthem of communism and socialism, WND.com reported.

The website also featured the song titled “Red Revolution,” which was supposed to be sung to the tune of “Red Robin.”

The lyrics, WND noted, include: “When the Red Revolution brings its solution along, along, there’ll be no more lootin’ when we start shootin’ that Wall Street throng.”

Also: “Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie. And when the revolution comes, We’ll kill you all with knives and guns, Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie.”

The CPC being hosted on the DSA’s website is noted in the Congressional record.

This reporter previously documented:

The issue of the CPC being hosted on the DSA website rose again in June 2000 in connection with a heated dispute on the House floor among Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif.; Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.; and David R. Obey, D-Wis., over the “merits of the F-22 fighter plane.”

When Cunningham stood to defend himself, he included in his argument the fact that the relationship between the CPC and DSA was an open secret.

The CPC was still hosted by the DSA website in April 2002. On April 23, 2002, author and political philosopher Balint Vazsonyi noted the connection in the Washington Times when he asked: “‘What?’ I hear you say. ‘Socialists in the Congress of the United States?’”

Dozens, dear reader, dozens. And they make no secret of it. Although of late it has been refurbished and the address altered, they have their own Web site. They call themselves members of the Progressive Caucus, until recently an arm of the Democratic Socialists of America, itself an arm of the Socialist International. The Progressive Caucus may be a separate entity now, but the details of its program, as advertised on the website, are indistinguishable from that of the Socialist International.

To their credit, they make no secret of it. Only the rest of us prefer not to believe it.

In an earlier article in November 2002, Vazsonyi further highlighted the presence of the CPC on the DSA website.

DSA aided Sanders political rise

This reporter previously documented the DSA’s role in helping to organize support for Sanders’ national political career:

On Oct. 24, 1988, The Nation magazine, identifying Sanders as “the socialist Mayor of Burlington, Vermont,” reported he had been endorsed for Congress by both the Democratic Socialists of America and the progressive founders of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

The DSA endorsed Sanders for every one of his subsequent elections and has openly helped to raise funds for him over the years.

In 2006, for example, the DSA boasted in its literature about the socialist group’s “involvement in Bernie Sanders’ pivotal independent 2006 Senate campaign in Vermont.”

Indeed, the DSA held “Elect Sanders” house parties in Atlanta; Boston; Detroit; Portland, Maine; Boulder, Colorado; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Ithaca, New York; Springfield, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New York City.

“DSAers wanting to hold Sanders house parties should contact me at fllewellyn@dsausa.org,” wrote one senior DSA activist in the socialist group’s July 2006 newsletter.

That same year, Sanders spoke at a Detroit fundraiser for DSA’s Political Action Committee. The fundraiser was connected by telephone link to a simultaneous DSA fundraising event in Atlanta.

DSA literature notes that in January 2006, DSA Detroit Chair David Green “took Bernie Sanders to tour Stan Ovshinsky’s United Solar Ovonics plant in Auburn Hills northwest of Detroit.”

“The plant makes successful, cost-efficient solar panels and is pioneering the hydrogen fuel cell,” added the DSA.

Sanders helped recruit new members to the DSA. In one example, he was the featured speaker at numerous DSA “house parties” in the fall of 2006 that were aimed not only at garnering support for his senatorial bid but also used by the DSA to recruit new members to its ranks.

As this reporter previously documented:

One New York City event was held Sept. 19, 2006, at the home of DSA activists Gene and Laurel Eisner on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“The questions and comments actually had to be cut off to let Bernie get to the plane,” reported the DSA.

DSA reported the Sanders events helped to recruit new members to the socialist organization.

“Sanders support work provides a natural vehicle in any locality for DSA to reach out to — and potentially recruit — unaffiliated socialists and independent radicals.”

With the victory of Ocasio-Cortez, the DSA has arrived on the political stage as an open, unapologetically socialist player in the Democratic party.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

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